Guide to Strategic Litigation

Guide to Strategic Litigation

This guide has been produced to provide individuals and community groups with information to promote a better understanding of how to challenge decisions of public bodies. It is intended for non-lawyers, for community and voluntary sector groups and for individuals. It is not intended for litigants in person (ie those who go to court without a lawyer to assist them), and in no way replaces the need for expert legal advice. Instead, it is designed to help non-lawyers understand the judicial review process, to navigate their way through it, and to get the best out of the lawyers they will undoubtedly need.

There are a number of ways that individuals or groups can challenge the exercise of power by public bodies. These include complaints procedures and ombudsman schemes, appeals to tribunals, and judicial review litigation in the High Court. Of these, judicial review will, in many cases, be the most powerful tool for achieving effective change to public bodies’ decision-making practices. This is due to certain features of the judicial review procedure, including its flexibility, its focus on preventing misuse of power by public bodies, and the court’s tendency to do justice in each individual case with half an eye on the effect of its decision on good public administration (which may involve consideration of the impact of the judgment on those not involved in the litigation, including other individuals and public bodies). One judicial review case can make a difference to many other people and can give members of the community a focus for lobbying politicians and persuading public bodies to reconsider their policies. That is what makes judicial review such a powerful campaigning tool.

Author: The Public Law Project

Publication date: January 13 2014